Jay Cutler Return: Bears Should Not Rush Star QB Back Versus Lions

Chris RolingFeatured ColumnistNovember 5, 2013

GREEN BAY, WI - NOVEMBER 4:  Quarterback Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears, injured and not suited up for play, watches from the sideline against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on November 4, 2013 in Green Bay, Wisconsin.  (Photo by Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)
Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

An injury at the quarterback position is the worst possible thing that can happen to an NFL team.

As a whole, the position league-wide is a mess, hence why teams line up year after year in a search for an answer in the draft.

The Chicago Bears are a rare exception to the rule. Not only does coach Marc Trestman have a franchise quarterback in Jay Cutler, but he has one of the NFL's best backups in Josh McCown.

This equates to one indisputable fact—there is no need for Cutler to rush back from a groin tear suffered in mid-October.

That seemingly was the plan after Chicago's Week 10 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Monday Night Football, as ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Cutler was expected to start in Week 11 against Detroit:

Thankfully, Cutler himself shot this notion down after the fact, as documented by Dan Wiederer of the Chicago Tribune:

Unfortunately, Cutler apparently followed that up with something that should make Bears' faithful cringe:

Should Cutler risk his future health for one game against Detroit? Absolutely not. The answer is unequivocally a resounding "no."

As crazy as it sounds, the Bears do not need Cutler at the moment. Yes, the Week 11 battle with the Lions is for first place in the NFC North, but McCown has more than proven to be a capable stopgap solution:

Josh McCown in Spot Duty
Week 7 at WAS20410119.6
Week 9 at GB2722090.7

McCown's production is a byproduct of two factors—horrible pass defenses and Trestman's efficient and easy to digest offense that allows the quarterback to shine (perhaps Cutler, in a contract year, wants to rush back because of McCown's success?).

Washington ranks in the bottom five in pass defense, so McCown's 204 yards and a touchdown on short notice come as no surprise. A week of preparation for Green Bay's No. 20-ranked secondary made the 272 yards and two scores from McCown anticlimactic as well.

Now McCown gets a shot at a porous Detroit secondary ranked No. 26 in the NFL and has allowed quarterbacks to do this to it in recent weeks:

Detroit Defense vs. Quarterbacks Weeks 6-8
Week 6 at CLEBrandon Weeden29222
Week 7 vs. CINAndy Dalton37230
Week 8 vs. DALTony Romo20630

Yikes. We have a feeling Chicago will be just fine with McCown three weeks deep into Trestman's offense.

Flash back to Week 4 when Chicago traveled to Detroit and was sent home with a 40-32 loss after 317 yards, two touchdowns and three interceptions from Cutler—not exactly an encouraging performance for the starter in the first place.

Now Detroit has to travel to Soldier Field and take on McCown, who is just hitting his stride.

Despite the obvious importance of the showdown with Detroit, Chicago will need Cutler back at full strength for Week 12 and 13, when the team takes on Baltimore and St. Louis, owners of the No. 14 and No. 9 pass defenses, respectively.

Statistics such as this used to ring true in Chicago:

Not anymore thanks to a new offense. In two games with McCown under center in Trestman's offense against weak defenses, Chicago has scored 41 and 27 points.

As crazy as it sounds, Chicago will fare well without its franchise quarterback against a divisional rival. But not after when the schedule picks back up.

Cutler must sit in Week 11 while the Bears ride Matt Forte (216 rushing yards, four touchdowns past two games) and the arm of McCown.

There's no sense in risking further injury at this stage of the season, as the team will need a 100 percent Cutler under center later in the year.